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Organizing with gubernatorial candidate Dennis Kucinich

Organizing with gubernatorial candidate Dennis Kucinich

Progressive Dems organize with gubernatorial candidate Dennis Kucinich Gubernatorial candidate Dennis Kucinich addressed the first town hall forum of the Progressive Democrats of America Central Ohio chapter on February 5. Kucinich emphasized that he is for universal health care and when in Congress had written HR 676 a Health Care for All bill, co-sponsored by Representative John Conyers. While pitching universal health care, he also put in a plug for veganism, saying that his switch to a vegan diet in 1995 allowed him to get off of six of seven pharmaceutical medications. He told the crowd that he fights to keep community hospitals open but he warned them that closing hospitals is often a tactic to break health care unions. Kucinich explained that his approach to politics is based on the fact that “I’m an activist at heart.” He claimed that his ultimate agenda is to “empower the people of this state to make their own decisions.” He supports the Community Bill of Rights. The biggest laugh line of the night was when he was asked his position on gerrymandering. He pronounced: “I know about gerrymandering. I lost my seat not to nasty Republicans, but from nasty Democrats.” Kucinich’s House district was re-shaped into the infamous “snake on the lake” district that favored Democrat Marcy Kaptur in Toledo. When asked why the Dems wanted to get rid of him, his answer produced the loudest applause of the night. He said “I raised hell against the wars. That’s why they wanted to get rid of me.” He argued that his campaign offers a chance for progressive activists to “Seize this... read more
Overturning Ohio HB 463

Overturning Ohio HB 463

Overturning Ohio HB 463 – Dismantling a corporate state and building something new by Thomas Linzey and Tish O’Dell February 2, 2018 President Trump says – and the Supreme Court affirms – that we are “a nation of laws,” but no one questions “who” is making those laws.  It takes a people’s movement to overturn unjust law and advance rights. And Ohioans are launching just that: a Community Rights movement to protect and enforce rights to clean air, water, and local community self-government. It is a movement born out of necessity in this state. The oil and gas industry owns state legislators, and local government officials carry out state directives under threat of being sued and facing bankruptcy. In Pennsylvania, even the judiciary is punishing lawyers defending communities from fracking harms. As fracking, pipelines, compressor stations, and wastewater injection wells inundate communities, it’s clear to residents they will find no remedy in the EPA, ODNR, and certainly not in their legislators. Thus, they are turning to themselves and each other. They are building a rights-based movement to end their communities becoming sacrifice zones, and to build what they envision for their communities: clean air and water, a healthy environment, strong local economies, and a future for their children. Community Rights Laws For five years, Ohio residents – finding no remedy in the current system – have requested help to draft local Community Rights laws and charters to stop fracking activities. These laws establish rights to clean air and water, and the right to local community self-government.  They ban fracking activities as a violation of those rights. Nearly a half... read more
Ohio Activists Push Amendments to Restore Community Rights

Ohio Activists Push Amendments to Restore Community Rights

Ohio activists are joining ballot efforts around the country that supporters say are aimed at restoring rights to communities to challenge a growing list of corporate incursions. The oil-and-gas industry says their amendment would devastate Ohio’s economy. Nov. 28, 2017, at 3:17 p.m. By JULIE CARR SMYTH, Associated Press COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Activists in Ohio are joining efforts around the country that supporters say are aimed at restoring rights to communities to challenge a growing list of corporate incursions. The campaign to pass an Ohio Community Rights Amendment stems from mounting frustration among environmental groups that have failed for years to push anti-fracking measures onto local ballots. But the latest effort is broader, said spokeswoman Tish O’Dell. State laws are making it increasingly difficult for communities to regulate predatory lending, puppy mills, wireless equipment location, minimum wages, pesticide treatments and a host of other issues, O’Dell said. “Only a century ago, we the people wrote laws that corporations followed,” said O’Dell, a community organizer with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. “That’s what it should be again: The people should be writing laws that corporations follow, non-living entities. It’s like we’ve created a Frankenstein that we now can’t control.” Two constitutional amendments proposed in Ohio would prevent further setbacks from election officials, courts and the state’s Republican-led state Legislature, O’Dell said. Similar efforts are underway in Oregon and New Hampshire. An earlier attempt failed in Colorado. The first would extend the right of initiative and referendum enjoyed by residents of municipalities to those living outside them, in counties and townships. The second, dubbed the Ohio Community Rights Amendment,... read more
Ohio local governance amendments certified by Attorney General Mike DeWine

Ohio local governance amendments certified by Attorney General Mike DeWine

By Jackie Borchardt, cleveland.com jborchardt@cleveland.com COLUMBUS, Ohio — Efforts to give Ohioans more power to pass and enforce local laws that might conflict with state laws gained initial approval Monday. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Monday certified petitions for two proposed amendments to the state constitution: the Ohio Community Rights Amendment and the Initiative and Referendum Amendment for Counties and Townships. DeWine’s certification is the first in a long series of steps for the measures to appear on a statewide ballot. The community rights amendment would establish a constitutional right to local community self-government for the “health, safety and welfare of community members.” The county and township amendment would extend Ohio’s constitutional right to initiative and referendum on state and city laws to county and township laws. The amendments were drafted to address what supporters say is growing influence from the Ohio Statehouse on local, community decisions. The amendment is backed by the Ohio Community Rights Network and the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. Tish O’Dell, the legal defense fund’s Ohio organizer, said communities should be able to pass local laws to regarding the environment, predatory lending, minimum wage, puppy mills and other issues without being preempted by state legislators. “We believe people locally have the right to certain things,” O’Dell said. “Just because it isn’t in our federal constitution doesn’t mean we don’t have the right to expand our rights locally.” Colorado and Oregon have passed community rights measures in recent years, according to amendment backers. The amendments now go to the Ohio Ballot Board to determine whether each amendment is one or multiple issues. Once approved by the... read more
Two proposed amendments get initial OK

Two proposed amendments get initial OK

By Marty Schladen The Columbus Dispatch Attorney General Mike DeWine on Monday announced that he had OK’d the first batch of signatures for each of two efforts to amend the Ohio Constitution. Both are intended to keep moneyed interests from overriding the will of local voters by pressuring the Ohio General Assembly, said Tish O’Dell, spokeswoman for the Ohio Community Rights Network, the four-year-old-group pushing the amendments. “It’s ‘we the people,’ not ‘we the corporations,’” she said. One of the measures is the Ohio Community Rights Amendment. “This amendment secures the right of local, community self government for the people of Ohio by guaranteeing local authority to enact laws to protect the unalienable rights and the health, safety and welfare of community members and natural ecosystems, free from state pre-emption or corporate interference,” it says. O’Dell said it’s intended to keep the legislature from overriding local ordinances such as Grove City’s puppy mill ban or a predatory lending law in Toledo. The Ohio General Assembly overrode both, O’Dell said. The other measure, The Initiative and Referendum Amendment for Counties and Townships, would give residents in those bodies the ability to initiate statutes and referenda. “Currently, they don’t have the same rights as cities and villages do,” O’Dell said. Both measures are a long way from becoming part of the Constitution. So far, 1,000 signatures have been validated for each. Now the Ohio Ballot Board must determine if the amendments each contain a single issue or multiple issues, the attorney general’s office said. Then supporters must gather a number of signatures equal to 10 percent of the total number who... read more

Press Release: Bowling Green Residents Tip OH Supreme Court in their Favor, Win Fight for Right to Vote

Oct 19, 2017 HB 463 – corporate state legislation to block citizen initiative – struck by Court BOWLING GREEN, OHIO:  Today, the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed the right of Bowling Green residents to vote, ordering their first-in-the-state Right to Climate charter amendment on the November ballot. The Wood County Board of Elections (BOE) approved the measure for the ballot last month. One resident challenged the decision, arguing in part that the substance of the initiative was unconstitutional and, under HB 463 should be kept off the ballot. HB 463 was adopted by the people’s legislators last December. The legislators granted BOEs broad authority to keep measures off the ballot based on content, making it difficult for residents to propose legislation that challenges unjust law. The Ohio Supreme Court would have none of it, striking HB 463 down as a violation of the separation of powers, and ordering the charter amendment on the ballot. The Court stated, “To the extent that [HB 463] authorizes and requires boards of elections to make substantive, preenactment legal evaluations, it violates the separation-of-powers doctrine and is unconstitutional.” The charter amendment emerged out of Bowling Green residents’ growing alarm when they learned of the proposed Nexus pipeline threatening their City’s water supply. Students and residents joined together to work with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) to draft their charter amendment, which asserts the community’s right to a healthy climate, and bans the pipeline as a violation of that right. Brad Holmes, a Bowling Green University student, celebrated the decision. “When the people rise up and take action to stop climate change, state actors... read more
Youngstown Residents Push to Oust Corporations from Election Campaigns, Cap Contributions at $100

Youngstown Residents Push to Oust Corporations from Election Campaigns, Cap Contributions at $100

Youngstown Residents Push to Oust Corporations from Election Campaigns, Cap Contributions at $100 Tuesday, Aug 8, 2017, 3:00 pm | By Rural America In These Times In their seventh attempt to put an end to the environmental threats the oil and gas industry pose to their land, water and right to self-governance, a community rights group in Youngstown, Ohio, is attempting to amend their city’s charter in order to ban corporate interference in their local elections. With assistance from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF)—a non-profit, public interest law firm that provides legal services to communities facing outside threats to their local environment, local agriculture, local economy and quality of life—the Youngstown Community Bill of Rights Committee has gathered and submitted the signatures required to get the initiative, explained below, on their November ballot. Read... read more